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KULALA Academy: The Life and Legacy of Sergio Rossi

We trace the career trajectory of the Italian shoemaker who has undeniably made a name for himself amongst the best in the business.
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Earlier this month, the industry mourned the loss of revered Italian shoe designer Sergio Rossi. Easily one of the most prolific shoemakers of our time, Rossi’s pioneering designs have set the template for succeeding generations of footwear designers. Rossi was but a young boy when he dipped his feet into the world of shoemaking. It would in the years after go on to become his forte. With decades of his life dedicated to crafting footwear for generations of women, Rossi’s reputation as an iconic shoemaker preceded him.

The Former Years

Hailing from a family background of shoemaking, Rossi charted an early start in the craft. In the years after the second World War, Rossi, who was then in his teens, worked alongside his bespoke shoemaker father. It was during this time that he learnt the ropes of the footwear business. As with many shoemakers of the time, the torch was passed to Rossi from the preceding generation. In 1968, he launched his eponymous footwear line. This marked the beginning of his legacy.

The Signature Style

Rossi first rose to acclaim for his Slavic-inspired “Opanca” sandals. The shoes had a distinctive shape. Built with an insole that curved upwards hugging the sides of the foot, a kitten heel and thin straps of leather that wound around the feet, the “Opanca” was one of the earliest prototypes of the stereotypical Summer sandal. Much like with the “Opanca”, the silhouette of a shoe took precedence in much of Rossi’s designs. He was a designer helmed with a keen understanding of how to dress up a woman’s feet. The arch of the shoe, the height of the heel and the artfully placed embellishment, it was all synchronised to exude a certain sophistication synonymous to Rossi’s designs. Each of his impeccably crafted shoes were also known to require a minimum of 120 individual steps and 14 hours to construct.

The Turning Point

Beyond being a master of his craft, Rossi’s understanding of the fashion business preceded his time. Amongst the first of footwear designers to take his designs to the runway, he was a man who was ahead of the curve. Working in tandem with some of the biggest names in Italian fashion like Versace and Dolce & Gabbana, Rossi took his eponymous line of footwear to the frontlines of the industry. By the 90s, Rossi had catapulted to popularity in both the European and American markets. Continuing the tradition of passing on the legacy to the generation after, his son, Gianvito came onboard to work alongside Rossi. In the last two decades, the eponymous label has switched hands with Rossi and his son eventually leaving the business.

From Here On Out 

In 2016, the Sergio Rossi brand was relaunched by a private equity owner. The ethos of the brand still very much attuned to the legacy of its founding designer. Gianvito has since launched his own line where he writes the next chapter of the Rossi legacy in footwear on his terms.

A Quoteable Quote

“When in doubt, wear your attitude with style.”

What To Read Next: What’s Inside My Makeup Bag?The Bacteria-Zapping Gadget We Could All Use In Our Lives Right Now and Ear Cuffs Are the Pierce-Free Cheat Code to Upping Your Earring Game Cover Image: Qide Sim.

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